There are a few prophetic Bible passages that indicate Sabbaths and Feasts could be kept in the kingdom of God (Isaiah 66:23, Ezekiel 44:24, Zechariah 14:16). One purpose of a Sabbath is to provide rest from physical work. It may continue to perform this function; as work is done in the Kingdom age (Isaiah 65:21-23).
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
Jesus directs us to the fact that the Sabbath was created for the benefit of humanity (see also Exodus 16:29). Apart from an opportunity to enjoy rest from work, why else should a Sabbath be observed now or in the future?
The Sabbath is first mentioned in the book of Exodus. God provided bread from heaven for the nation of Israel as they travelled through the wilderness. There was no food for them to collect on the Sabbath, so double was collected the day before (Exodus 16:22, 26). Their day of rest is described as a “Sabbath to the LORD” (Exodus 16:23, 25), this indicates that their physical rest was to be coupled with spiritual purpose.
Along with the nine other commandments recorded in Exodus 20, the observance of a Sabbath is still a good idea today. In fact, out of the Ten Commandments the one regarding the Sabbath has the most detail*.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)
So the Sabbath is a blessing, a special day to think about God; the Creator. By following his pattern of work and rest we associate ourselves with God. The Sabbath also provides an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful work God has done and continues to do (See Deuteronomy 5:15 and Psalm 92:1-5; entitled ‘A Song for the Sabbath’). As well as the past and present, the Sabbath points forward to the future time of refreshing and rest.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest… (Hebrews 4:9-11)
A Sabbath provides us with a rest. It is intended to be a peaceful day to contemplate God in relation to the past, present and future. It could provide this for the mortal population during Christ’s reign.
Paul in his letter to the Colossians was aware that the question of keeping the Sabbath or not may be a contentious issue:
Therefore let no one pass judgement on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)
Any Sabbath is pointless if it doesn’t direct us to think about Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath and the Rest that God has in store for his people.
* Note: For further reading on the Sabbath, please see Exodus 31:12-18.